It does no good to gripe about any particular judge’s decision in the Tournament of Books. Well, okay, it makes us feel better, pointing out why that judge is wrong wrong wrong. But it doesn’t change anything. Sarvas attempted to flex his newly developed Author muscle, but needs to go back to the spinach can:
Imagine, then, my shock and dismay to find The Savage Detectives
eliminated in the first round. Knowing our hosts’ taste for
controversy, I wrote to them and pleaded the merits of jury
nullification, so that I could undertake this clash of titans I’d
envisioned. Mischief-makers that they are, they were tempted, but
finally felt obligated to observe the rules of their own game.
Not tempted at all, according to them; but, justice will be served:
Well, obviously I want to undo the unfathomable wrong of the prior round and advance The Savage Detectives. That’s my real choice.
But since I don’t have the option open, and since neither book excited me as much as last year’s The Road, I’m going to advance Tree of Smoke,
on the grounds (as good as any) that in the event that it makes it all
the way through to the finals, it is precisely the sort of Big Literary
Book that frequently gives Nick Hornby such conniptions in his Believer column, and it will be entertaining to see how he takes to it.
But really: The Savage Detectives.
Which leads one of the Tournament Overlords to nearly "give Judge Sarvas the Dale Peck Pretentious A-Hole of the Tournament award" which would no doubt please Dale Peck as he plots more evildoing from his underground lair. Such drama! I haven’t read either of these, though I will admit some underdog appreciation of Vida’s work. I do wish for fewer judgments like this one in the future; people want an honest weighing of the merits, not vigilante justice. (Of course, substitute Remainder everywhere you see The Savage Detectives in Mark’s decision, and, well, yeah.)